Bail supervision: national guidance

This document provides revised guidance for the operation of bail supervision setting out standards and expectations to support the consistent delivery of the service across Scotland.


1. The term 'bail supervision' is used to denote that this is distinct from 'bail support'. The term 'support' used throughout this document refers to the support offered as part of bail supervision, rather than specific bail support services.

2. Please see Annex 1 for further considerations when working with children and young adults subject to bail supervision.

3. This Evaluation of Sixteen Women's Community Justice Services in Scotland noted the multiple and complex needs that women in the Scottish justice system may have, such as mental and emotional health difficulties, lack of purposeful or rewarding activities, substance use, difficulty in solving everyday problems, and unstable or unsupportive family/social relationships. There was also an indication of high rates of trauma or abuse, where measured.

4. Please note that in relation to domestic abuse whereby the individual has child contact, court ordered or otherwise, or states that they will be seeking such contact, this will not be sufficient for bail supervision assessors to justify automatic suitability for bail supervision. Other safety considerations must be taken into account such as the nature of the offence / alleged offence.

5. These are, as noted in the 1995 Act, that the person: (a) appears at the appointed time at every diet relating to the offence with which they are charged of which they are given due notice; or at which they are required by the Act to appear; (b) does not commit an offence while on bail; (c) does not interfere with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the course of justice whether in relation to themselves or any other person; (ca) does not behave in a manner which causes, or is likely to cause, alarm or distress to witnesses; (cb) whenever reasonably instructed by a constable to do so - (i) participates in an identification parade or other identification procedure; and (ii) allows any print, impression or sample to be taken from the accused; (d) makes themselves available for the purpose of enabling enquiries or a report to be made to assist the court in dealing with them for the offence with which they are charged; and (e) where the (or an) offence in respect of which they are admitted to bail is one of domestic abuse or a particular type of sexual offence (as listed in section 24(7A)(b) of the Act), does not seek to obtain, otherwise than by way of a solicitor, any precognition of or statement by the complainer in relation to the subject matter of the offence.

6. 'Responsivity' refers to how an intervention is delivered i.e. tailored to the learning style, motivation, characteristics, abilities, and strengths of the person.

7. Services must take into account the Whole System Approach (WSA) for children and young people in the justice system, for those age 16-26 years, as well as compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child for those under 18 (Article 3: "in all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration"). Further, The Promise, arising from the Independent Care Review (2020), highlights that children who are involved in offending need protection and care, and that the criminalisation of children should be avoided, intervention should be early, minimal, and as destigmatising as possible, and all decisions made by professionals should be centred on the child's best interest. The Children and Young People's Centre for Justice produced a research report on the use and impact of bail and remand on children in Scotland. Please also see Annex 1 for considerations relating to working with children and young adults subject to bail supervision.

8. 'Strengths' are defined in the Framework for Risk Assessment, Management, and Evaluation (FRAME: 22) as: "..positive characteristics or circumstances that can make an individual more resilient to adverse circumstance, and predispose towards or encourage non-criminal behaviour and/or help to promote desistance from further offending."

9. This aims to ensure that the Scottish workforce, including justice social work services, have the necessary level of knowledge and skills to meet the needs of people affected by trauma.

10. Please see section 2.2 for further details on the roles and responsibilities of key partners in relation to bail supervision.

11. Bail supervision staff should ensure details of any victims organisations involved with victims are not revealed to those accused or convicted of domestic abuse, as this could increase risk to victims.

12. The Criminal Justice Voluntary Sector Forum have created the 'Beyond Consultation' toolkit to support third sector participation in local community justice processes, which services may find useful.

13. See ALISS (A Local Information System for Scotland) for the directory of services in local areas, as well as NHS services.

14. Justice social work services staff based in court settings should also have regard to the Criminal Justice Social Work Reports and Court-Based Services Practice Guidance (2010), where relevant.

15. This may be a useful resource in this regard: Lightowler. C and Weaver, B (2019) A Practical Guide to Service User Involvement in Community Justice.

16. Please see Annex 1 for specific considerations regarding bail supervision assessments in relation to children and young adults.

17. It must be noted that EM bail may not have the same-day expectation given the potentially more complex assessment required.

18. It must be noted that, in order to prevent service generated risk for victims of domestic abuse, it is important that where any reports submitted to the court are informed by information from or relating to partners or ex-partners, this should be provided in such a way that it does not jeopardise the safety of the victim or others by identifying the source. This includes information received via other sources such as workers from other organisations/agencies.

19. Please see the assessment template at Annex 4 for further considerations within the report sections.

20. Consideration should be given to an individual's comprehension/capacity to consent to bail supervision and any additional support required to understand conditions being imposed (such as people with learning disabilities and/or speech, language, and communication needs). The SOLD Network provides a useful practice guide for staff working with people with communication support needs in the justice system.

21. Please see Annex 1 for specific considerations regarding managing children and young adults subject to bail supervision. Services working with children should also incorporate the GIRFEC wellbeing indicators as part of any planning.

22. Please see Annex 6 for an outline of the Justice Outcomes Star.

23. Again, it is noted that some people will be made subject to bail supervision for alleged offences and will not have received a conviction. Explicit offence-focused work therefore may not be appropriate in such cases, and the focus of work undertaken during the bail supervision period should be on areas of need identified by the individual and worker.

24. It is also noted that the Care Inspectorate's guidance on Serious Incident Reviews relates to CPOs, DTTOs, and statutory throughcare licences. Where an individual subject to bail supervision is alleged to have committed, or is subsequently convicted of, an offence which meets the FRAME definition of Serious Harm, the SIR guidance and templates can be utilised by justice social work services to support learning and continuous improvement without the expectation of submitting a notification to the Care Inspectorate.

25. When the individual must meet a bail condition involving the oversight of a third party, e.g. residence in supported accommodation, there must be clear agreement at the outset between local authority managers responsible for bail supervision and the third party organisation on procedures for dealing with non-compliance (e.g. any instances where the individual has failed to comply with an accommodation curfew).

26. Workers should ensure that the individual understands the warning in terms of both the implications of it, and that it is commensurate with their literacy and/or speech, language, and communication needs. Any warning(s) issued should also be discussed face-to-face where possible to ensure understanding.

27. Report authors should check the SCTS court portal to find out if the individual is subject to EM as part of bail and contact G4S for a progress update.

28. As stated, some areas use the Justice Outcomes Star to measure outcomes as part of the management plan, or have created their own templates.

29. Reproduced here with SACRO's permission. Community Justice | Sacro

30. Derived from Mackeith, J et al (2017) Justice Star Development Report and Triangle Consulting 'The Outcomes Star for people in the criminal justice system'. Please note that there is a cost associated with obtaining training for, and a license to use, the Justice Star.



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